Colorado Daily Snow

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Final post of the season (but it's going to keep snowing into mid-May)


It's May 5th and I am going on summer break. But the atmosphere is still in snow mode as 4-5 inches fell across northern mountains last night and there should be at least two more storms around May 8-12 and again around May 16-19. We'll always take the snow and the moisture!

Short Term Forecast

Happy May 5th!

This will be my final post of the season and I am looking forward to recharging over the summer. That said, the atmosphere is continuing to drop snow on our mountains and there are more storms through mid-May.

The current storm is finishing up but not before it dropped 4-5 inches on the northern mountains on the night of May 4th. This overnight snowfall was mostly driven by the jet stream which was draped across the northern mountains for most of the night and helped to lift the air and encourage more intense showers.

The snowpack across Colorado on May 5th is well below average for all river basins except for the South Platte river basin over the northeastern mountains (the area just west of Denver) where the snowpack is 103% of average.

In the South Platte river basin, the peak snowpack occurs a few weeks later than most other regions with the peak occurring around the end of April. And that's what's happening this season as this graphic shows.

During the entire 2020-2021 season, the statewide snowpack was below average except for a brief period at the very start of the season. Our below-average snowpack was not expected because previous La Nina seasons generally produced a snowpack that was average to above-average. But season-ahead forecasts for snowfall are hard to impossible to get right, with the exception being over the Pacific Northwest (Washington and British Columbia) where they are basically guaranteed above-average snowfall during La Nina seasons. Let's remember this note, about the lack of accuracy of season-ahead forecasts, as we head into the fall of 2021 when we will start to see forecasts for snowfall during the upcoming season:-)

Extended Forecast

We will see storms throughout at least mid-May with high-elevation snow accumulations likely for the northern mountains between about May 8-12 and again around May 16-19. The atmosphere is working on a roughly weekly cycle and it's amazing (and welcome) to see a new dose of moisture every seven or so days.

As we look ahead to spring and summer...

  • We now have snow forecasts for southern hemisphere ski areas! Use the map to zoom around and search for your favorite mountain. Or check out the powder finder.

  • We have forecasts for your summer hiking, mountaineering, and other adventures here in Colorado and around the United States. Check out OpenSummit (website & app) which provides mountain-specific weather forecasts for hikes and summits across Colorado and the United States. Importantly, we include a forecast for lightning risk which is especially useful when planning adventures near and above treeline. Sign up here.

  • Please do your part to prevent human-caused wildfires. Remember that Colorado is a dry place and it only takes a single spark and some wind to start a massive fire. Maybe think twice about having a campfire, and at least make sure it is FULLY out when you leave the site (old coals can create sparks days later if the winds begin to gust). Also, a lot of recent fires across the west have been caused by target shooting – if you're doing this, please do it on low-risk days (wetter days with no wind). Lightning-caused fires are a part of nature that are often helpful and something we need to deal with across the west, but let's not make things worse by making human-caused wildfires. That's the end of my soapbox, thanks for reading:-)

And thanks so much for reading the Colorado Daily Snow this season and for your support of me and OpenSnow. We have a LOT of amazing new products coming this summer on OpenSummit and next winter on OpenSnow…stay tuned to our email newsletter and this daily snow where we'll post updates during the next few months.

Best wishes for fun and memorable adventures during the spring and summer!



Geography Key

Northern Mountains
Steamboat, Bluebird Backcountry, Granby, Beaver Creek, Vail, Ski Cooper, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Eldora, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Along the Divide
Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass

East of the Divide
Eldora, Echo, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Central Mountains
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn

Southern Mountains
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains

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